Blistering heat scorches Europe as Portugal wildfire injures 29 and officials warn of hotter, changing climate

Forest fires in Portugal have left 29 people injured, as temperatures are predicted to reach up to 45C (113F) in parts of the country from Tuesday.

On Saturday, the country recorded 125 fires, the highest number in a single day this year, with around 1,500 firefighters currently three big blazes.

The government declared a state of alert across the country, from Monday to Friday 15 July.

Next week’s weather has caused further concerns due to high temperatures.

From Tuesday, the Portuguese weather agency predicts temperatures of up to 45C (113F) in Alentejo – the region between Lisbon and the Algarve – with the rest of the country expecting temperatures in the high 30Cs and low 40Cs.

The agency added that winds of almost 40mph are also expected in several regions.

Many areas of western and southern Europe have faced unseasonably hot temperatures this summer, with wildfires breaking out in France and Spain and experts linking the abnormally hot period for Europe to climate change.

The Portuguese president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has cancelled his trip to a United Nations meeting in New York next week.

While a few small villages in Portugal were evacuated on Saturday, only a few homes faced damage.

The country’s prime minister, Antonio Costa, has asked the public on Twitter to avoid using fire or heavy machinery, due to the risk of more fires.

Wildfires injured 29 in Portugal. Pic: SIC TV
Portugal wildfires
The fires release carbon and air pollutants. Pic: SIC TV

The European Union’s executive arm, the European Commission, says climate change has the continent facing one of its hardest years for natural disasters such as droughts and wildfires.

On Friday 1,000 firefighters backed by water-dropping planes battled a large forest fire in south-east France, which had forced the evacuation of nearby villages.

In Spain, temperatures were forecast to climb to 42C (107F) over the weekend in some areas along the border with Portugal.

Portugal wildfires
Fires raged in Portugal Pic: SIC TV
Portugal wildfires
A helicopter flies above a fire in Portugal. Pic: SIC TV

Spain’s June rainfall was about half the 30-year average, and the country’s reservoirs are on average at 45% capacity, according to government data.

Italy has also suffered a prolonged heatwave already this summer, enduring its worst drought in 70 years that has raised fears for crop harvests.

Watch the Daily Climate Show at 3.30pm Monday to Friday, and The Climate Show with Tom Heap on Saturday and Sunday at 3.30pm and 7.30pm.

All on Sky News, on the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.

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